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Jaiya 1

It was more repulsive than anything she had ever encountered, a stench that coated her nasal passage until it was all there was. Her skin even smelled like it, somehow having soaked up the stench. Unwashed bodies surrounded her, grimy looking things that had nothing in common with humanity though they were human.

How could people have been reduced to the pathetic beings about her? Dressed in layers of rags stiff with accumulated filth even their skins were indistinguishable from the unclean surroundings. Matted hair and rotten teeth prevailed and there was no way to differentiate between man and women. She was surrounded, her still clean clothes attracting more attention than they should. Hands grasped at her, her pack and her clothes wanting to tear them off.

With an angry cry she lashed out at the hands pulling at her hair. Unclean fingers clutching at it, pulling painfully. She kicked at the person trying to take her shoes off then braced her feet on the ground to lever herself off it. A side kick to her right had one assailant sailing through the air and into the wall taking out a few others. She didn’t stop to observe the results but swung a hand at the person to her left catching them at the juncture between their neck and shoulder.

Three backflips had her against the left wall ensuring she would not be attacked from behind. They came at her in scores, a mass of unwashed humanity intent on taking what she had, their eyes devoid of anything resembling humanity. Cold eyed they looked at her as if she was nothing more than an object to be dispensed of. Aside from being unwashed they were undernourished, the kind that took years to achieve leaving ropy muscles defined against the prominent bones.

A person could be deceived into thinking their state meant they were not as strong as they should be but Jaiya knew better. Their hard existence would make them that much stronger. There was something about adversity that made people stronger, capable of more than they would ever have thought. Desperation and hopelessness would add to that and she had never seen more hopeless people than these.

The first two came at her and she attacked. She needed to disable each and every one of them with minimal punches so she had to fight dirty. With her heel she hit his nose breaking it then followed it with a punch at the Adam’s apple. She kicked the second one on the liver then chock punched another.

It was like a dance, she flew, swung and pirouetted as she kicked and punched through the mob. None got close enough to box her but some got a punch or kick through. Jaiya had been a fighter for as long as she could remember so her pain threshold and endurance was high. She flowed through her kicks and punches, a deadly dance punctuated by cries and moans of rage and pain.

A plank swung at her, she caught it yanked it out of her assailant’s hands then used it on the others. She might be an excellent fighter but the odds were against her as their numbers would eventually overwhelm her. She needed a way out but the cave like room had barred windows and doors, the bars set in the stone.

What she needed was serious fire power and that she had plenty. The Nano bracelet on her right wrist was fingerprint activated. Through a molecular kinetic field it gathered matter from about and transfused it into any of her preprogramed weapons. Limited particle construction abilities provided substances not immediately available. A neuropathic sensor read the desire of the wielder so that just by thinking of the weapon she wanted it was in her hand. As blasters converted surrounding energy into the electromagnetic it needed so it was her weapon of choice. It never ran out.

Yeah she was mad, bad and armed to do battle. The people in the dungeon with her though were just desperate and used to inhumane treatment so they were inhumane. Nothing they did to her was personal. The one she wanted was whoever had thrown her into this cesspool. She knew there would be no answers here so her only option was escape and the blaster was her key.

In one move she turned and fired at the wall diving to the left to avoid the debris. Some of her fellow inmates were not so lucky as to avoid it; she did with the exception of a few showers. While the mob was as yet dazed she got up and ran to the hole she had just made. Dust was still in the air, obscuring her view but her sixth sense had her stopping just shy of the last step to freedom. She had a horde of miserable creatures at her back ready to assault her but everything in her told her another step meant death.

The seconds trickled by as she waited for the dust to clear. She hoped it was thick enough around her to obscure her from view. The air was coming towards her so she knew her view would be dust free before the dungeon was. Still the hairs at the back of her neck rose, the area between her shoulder blades burning as if she had someone sighting her.

Her luck kept its streak, nothing was going her way. Before her was a four storey drop into the ocean, an endless seascape in a crystal blue shade she had never seen, above her were another two storeys. Above it wispy clouds rolled across a bright blue, almost lavender sky. It was a perfect day, too bad it wasn’t for her. Clean cut there were no handholds to use or a ledge for her to go sideways. The view was beautiful with frothing waves crashing against a jagged cliff base in a spectacular display of power rising to an incredible height.

The surface undulated as if it were a silken sheet rippling in the wind as a sea breeze swept across. Jumping in, while her only option was a dangerous gamble as the current had to be swift for the crashing waves to rise so high.

A spark to her right caught her attention and she turned to see a purple current running through the stone where she had blown the hole. Leaning in for a closer look she saw that the wall was mending itself. What sort of tech was this?

The stone was real; basalt from the looks of it, rust-red because of long exposure and the new cut was a deep grey. She had never heard of any tech that regrew rocks. Sure with nanites it could be done but it would be a waste when plexi-material was so readily available for all purposes. Looking to her left she saw that the wall was also mending itself, she had little time.

As she was about to leap some force grabbed and pulled her back. It was a power that enveloped her, wrapped her in some sensory deprivation cocoon. Time stood still, she couldn’t feel her extremities, her breathing or even her own thinking.

Her mind was disoriented as pressure drove from her core, expanding and threatening to erode all that she was. Darkness surrounded her, impregnable primordial darkness that held all of humanity’s nightmares. Nothing existed here, a deficiency that included her, like her actuality was a product of her own imagination even as she existed.

Twisted though it was in that moment she wondered at her presence. Was she real as she had always thought, or was she somehow somewhere dreaming up what she had always thought was reality? She had no explanation of how she had come into this dungeon, dreams were like that. What was reality then?

Starved of stimuli and then having it suddenly returned her muscles tensed as her heart pounded, sounding loud in her ears that she screamed which made it worse. The air felt cold on her skin, the moisture in it. Light burned through her closed eyes and the ground felt like it was made of spines. As the room spun around her she couldn’t focus on one thing to steady herself.

A boot landed painfully against her stomach as someone kicked her. She curled into herself as another got her upper arm, then her head, thighs and back. She was surrounded but her senses were still so confused she couldn’t focus. On instinct she covered her head with her arms to protect herself. She couldn’t defend herself; at this rate she might be dead within minutes. Pain was her world, highlighted by every breath she took. Her disoriented mind refused to work that even her trained reflexes didn’t react to any of the kicks or the punches they added.

As she was fading in a last ditch effort for survival she thought of a forcefield and one appeared to cover her. Her bracelet had come to her rescue. Anyone who had been in the process of kicking or punching her would have lost their limbs, she didn’t care. She had time to regroup, time to plan how she was going to get away from the surrounding mob.

All she could think about was what her yogini friend always said ‘if you waited long enough life provided answers to even the hardest situations’. She didn’t really believe it but at the moment it was a connection, when she might be living in her last moments she needed the connection, a lifeline.

She had no idea how long before they penetrated her shield but the reprieve was welcome. Uncovering her head she looked about her. Four burly men stood around her, one holding a stump where his hand had been. Unlike the others they were better dressed in tight fitting trousers and jerkins, well made. They had to be the wardens of this dungeon. She had not seen them before but they surrounded her now with others coming in. The other inmates had retreated into the darkness, away from the confrontation.

Damn, she was screwed.

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